Mount Shasta man shot by cops was insane when he threatened them with knives

Skye Kinkade
Siskiyou Daily News

A Mount Shasta man who was shot by police after threatening them with a knife in November of 2019 will receive mental health treatment instead of a jail sentence, most likely at a state hospital, Siskiyou County Superior Court Judge John Lawrence decided Thursday.

During a two-part trial on July 9, Jesse Beniamo Macias, 21, was found guilty of four felony counts, although Lawrence later determined that he was insane at the time he committed the crimes, which included assault on an officer; exhibiting a deadly weapon to an officer; criminal threats and resisting an officer with force or violence; and being armed with a deadly weapon.

Lawrence ruled that Macias was not guilty of attempted murder of a peace officer, a charge to which Macias had previously plead not guilty by reason of insanity, said Siskiyou County District Attorney Kirk Andrus.

“I’m glad that somebody listened and understood that Jesse wasn’t trying to kill police officers,” said Macias’ mother, Roxanne Macias, who believes the charge of attempted murder was inappropriate for the situation. His “breakdown,” she said, was the result of a days-long argument with his father.

“I’m pleased with the judge’s decision. Jesse was in the depths of a personal emergency (that day),” she added. “He was suicidal, but not trying to kill anyone.”

The first phase of last week’s trial, Andrus explained, was for the court to determine whether Macias was guilty of the charges.

“If found guilty, the second phase would be to determine if (Macias was) legally sane at the time of the offense,” Andrus said.

After deciding that Macias was guilty of four felonies – but not the attempted murder charge – Lawrence found in the trial’s second phase that Macias was insane at the time he committed the crimes, “meaning he was ultimately found not guilty by reason of insanity,” also known as NGI, Andrus said.

To make this determination, Lawrence reviewed reports from two court-appointed psychologists who spent time with Macias and advised the court on not guilty by reason of insanity guidelines, Andrus said.

After such a finding, the court does not sentence a defendant to prison or jail, but instead determines where to place them for mental health treatment with the goal of restoring them to sanity.

The court will make Macias’ placement determination on Aug. 11 after review and input by the Community Program Director at the California State Hospitals, Andrus said.

“Mr. Macias will likely be committed to in-patient treatment at a California State Hospital,” said Andrus. Until then, he will be held without bail at the Siskiyou County Jail.

“If, as expected, Mr. Macias is committed to the state hospital for treatment he will be confined and treated for up to the maximum sentence he was facing if sentenced to state prison – in this case six years and eight months.”

On the morning of Nov. 5, 2019, officers from the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call about a man making threats to family members while armed with a knife.

When officers arrived at Douglas Lane, they found Macias, then 19 years old, on the street with knives in his hands, said Andrus. The officers attempted to detain him, but Macias “ignored commands and advanced on the officers, throwing a knife at them,” he said.

A Siskiyou County Sheriff’s deputy and sergeant shot their firearms, striking and injuring Macias in the right arm and left calf.

Neither the Sheriff’s personnel nor an officer with the Mount Shasta Police Department, who also responded to the incident, were injured.

After treatment at Mercy Medical Center Mt. Shasta, Macias was arrested and charged. He has been in custody since Nov. 12, 2019.

Roxanne Macias said she hopes her son’s case will make authorities stop and think about the use of force, especially when the subject is a person with mental health issues. She encouraged the formation of a mental health response unit to work in conjunction with law enforcement to “help prevent tragedy.”

“This could have been so much worse,” she said.